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WIGILIA (Polish pronunciation: ) is the traditional Christmas
Christmas
Eve vigil supper in Poland
Poland
, held on December 24. The term is often applied to the whole day of the Christmas
Christmas
Eve, extending further into Pasterka , the midnight Mass held at Roman Catholic churches all over Poland
Poland
and in large Polish communities worldwide at midnight preceding the Christmas Day . In this usage, the supper itself is rather called "wieczerza" or "wieczerza wigilijna", using an Old Polish
Old Polish
word meaning "dinner" or "large supper", stemming from Proto-Indo-European root *vesper - "evening". The Last Supper
The Last Supper
translates into Polish as "ostatnia wieczerza".

The word Wigilia
Wigilia
derives from the Latin
Latin
verb vigilare , "to watch", and literally means "eve". The feasting traditionally begins once the First Star has been sighted (usually by children) in the sky at dusk (around 5 p.m.). Therefore, Christmas
Christmas
is also sometimes called "Gwiazdka" (the little star, referring to the Star of Bethlehem ).

CONTENTS

* 1 Traditions and customs

* 1.1 The evening Supper

* 1.1.1 The Shepherd\'s Mass

* 1.2 The Christmas
Christmas
breakfast

* 2 See also * 3 References

TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS

Christmas
Christmas
tree in a Polish home

Children usually decorate the Christmas
Christmas
tree on this day (if it has not been set up before). Often a bundle of hay is placed under the tablecloth or in each of the four corners of the room to symbolize the fact that Jesus
Jesus
was born in a manger .

As a game, children would remove pieces of straw from under the table. Green would mean a year of wealth or possibly a marriage, while a black piece of hay would mean bad luck much like the "piece of coal" represents in modern Christmas
Christmas
lore. The drawing of hay was only for fun and was rarely paid attention to. Various other divinations are semi-seriously practiced such as hiding a nut (or another small food piece) in a cake and dividing it among family members. Whoever finds the nut inside his portion is guaranteed to have a successful year.

Another tradition practiced by some, is to leave one extra place-setting for an "unexpected guest". This is to celebrate the tradition of hospitality and inclusion. The empty seat is left open just in case a traveler, family member, or a friend knocks on the door, so there would be a place for them to join in the celebrations.

Family members begin the celebration with a prayer and breaking of the Christmas
Christmas
wafer (opłatek - symbolizing the bread eaten daily — our day-to-day common life; very old Christian tradition of sharing bread) and wishing each other good fortune in the upcoming new year. (After the prayer, usually done by the man of the house, the opłatek is broken and pieces are given to everyone attending the table. From there, everyone breaks off a piece of their opłatek, and shares it with everyone else, wishing luck and joy in the upcoming year, for Christ has been born. This wish is usually finalized by a kiss on the cheek.) Readings from the Bible
Bible
concerning the nativity of Jesus
Jesus
are practiced in more religious households. In the countryside, it is customary to feed livestock (though not dogs, cats, and other pets) with the wafer, as the animals of the household are to be treated as people that day and are traditionally believed to speak with a human voice at midnight.

THE EVENING SUPPER

After the First Star appears in the sky and after sharing the Christmas
Christmas
wafer (opłatek), the Supper begins. A traditional Christmas meal in Poland
Poland
includes fish dishes and Borscht (beetroot soup) with Uszka
Uszka
(tortellini). Fish provides a main component of the Christmas Eve meal across Poland; since 1940 more popular are carp fillet, carp in aspic , "carp Jewish-style" (gefilte fish ) etc. Wigilia
Wigilia
is observed as a Black Fast meaning that most Poles abstain from eating meat on this day. Many households also prepare a great variety of special Christmas
Christmas
rollmops , matjas herring , poppy seed cakes (makowiec ), dried fruit compote and other delicacies including edible Christmas
Christmas
ornaments. Common dishes are various fruits (dried apples, plums, apricots, dates, etc.) and salads. Regional dishes include żurek , siemieniotka (in Silesia), mushroom soup, different salads , pierogi filled with cheese and potatoes as well as cooked dried mushrooms and cabbage (kapusta ) or cabbage and yellow peas; stuffed cabbage with mushrooms and rice gołąbki (cabbage rolls), kluski with poppyseed, kutia , and makówki (in Silesia).

It is still believed that whatever happens on Wigilia
Wigilia
affects the following year. So, if a quarrel should arise, it foretells a quarrelsome and troublesome year.

The number of country courses is traditionally established to be either twelve or an odd number (in Silesia
Silesia
); Twelve is symbolic of the number of months in the year as well as to celebrate the twelve disciples of Jesus.

The Shepherd\'s Mass

Some families as well as individual worshippers attend the traditional midnight mass/Shepherd's Mass (pasterka ), where Christmas carols are also sung.

A major part of the Wigilia
Wigilia
festivities is the opening of gifts. The children often open their gifts and hand out the gifts for the adults from under the tree. The gift-giver in Polish tradition is the Gwiazdka – Saint Nicholas' feminine counterpart – or the Gwiazdor (masculine), which is either a Pagan tradition, or represents the little Star of Bethlehem. Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
brings gifts on December 6. However this varies and in some families Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
is said to bring presents both on the 6th and on Christmas.

THE CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST

Christmas Day is a national holiday in Poland
Poland
and most Poles spend the day feasting with their family. Followed by Christmas
Christmas
Eve (Wigilia) there are two more days of Christmas
Christmas
celebration. Christmas breakfast often consists of scrambled eggs , cold-cuts served with horseradish sauce, smoked or fried salmon, marinated salads, coffee, tea and cakes, i.e. poppy seed roll, gingerbread (piernik) cake and cookies, kutia, etc.

SEE ALSO

* List of dining events

REFERENCES

Wikimedia Commons has media related to CHRISTMAS FOOD OF POLAND .

* ^ "Wigilja" at www.wigilja.com

* Wigilia
Wigilia
article from the Polish American Center * Wigilia
Wigilia
article from Pope John Paul II Polish Center * Wigilia
Wigilia
article from the Polish Museum of America

* v * t * e

Christmas
Christmas

* Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
* Children\'s Day * Boxing Day * Nochebuena * Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
Day * St. Stephen\'s Day * Sol Invictus * Yule
Yule

In Christianity

* Biblical Magi

* Adoration of the Magi

* Adoration of the Shepherds * Advent
Advent
* Angel Gabriel
Gabriel
* Annunciation
Annunciation
* Annunciation
Annunciation
to the shepherds * Baptism of the Lord
Baptism of the Lord
* Bethlehem
Bethlehem
* Christingle * Christmastide * Epiphany * Herod the Great * Jesus
Jesus
* Joseph * Mary

* Massacre of the Innocents
Massacre of the Innocents

* flight into Egypt

* Nativity Fast

* Nativity of Jesus
Jesus

* in art * in later culture

* Nativity scene * Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
* Star of Bethlehem * Twelfth Night

IN FOLKLORE

* Badalisc
Badalisc
* La Befana
Befana
* Belsnickel
Belsnickel
* Caganer
Caganer
* Christkind
Christkind
* Ded Moroz * Elves * Father Christmas
Christmas
* Grýla * Jack Frost
Jack Frost
* Joulupukki
Joulupukki
* Knecht Ruprecht
Knecht Ruprecht
* Korvatunturi * Krampus
Krampus
* Mikulás
Mikulás
* Miner\'s figure * Mrs. Claus * Nisse/Tomte * North Pole * Old Man Winter * Olentzero * Père Fouettard * Père Noël
Père Noël
* Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer * Saint Lucy * Santa\'s reindeer * Santa\'s workshop * Sinterklaas
Sinterklaas
* Tió de Nadal
Tió de Nadal
* Vertep * Yule
Yule
Cat * Yule
Yule
Lads * Zwarte Piet
Zwarte Piet

GIFT-BRINGERS

* Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
* Santa Claus
Santa Claus
* List of Christmas
Christmas
gift-bringers by country

TRADITIONS

* Advent
Advent
calendar * Advent
Advent
candle * Advent
Advent
wreath * Boar\'s Head Feast * Candle arches * Cards * Carols by Candlelight * Cavalcade of Magi
Cavalcade of Magi
* Crackers * Decorations * Events and celebrations * Feast of the Seven Fishes
Feast of the Seven Fishes
* Flying Santa * Hampers * Las Posadas
Las Posadas
* Letters * Lights * Markets * Meals and feasts * Moravian star * Nine Lessons and Carols * NORAD Tracks Santa

* Nutcrackers

* dolls

* Ornaments

* Parades

* list

* Piñatas * Pyramids * Räuchermann
Räuchermann
* Seals * Secret Santa * Spanbaum
Spanbaum
* Stamps * Stockings * Tree * Twelve Days * Wassailing * Windows * Yule
Yule
Goat * Yule
Yule
log

BY COUNTRY

* Australia and New Zealand * Denmark * Germany * Hawaii * Hungary * Iceland * Indonesia * Ireland * Mexico * Norway * Philippines * Poland
Poland
* Romania * Russia * Scotland * Serbia * Sweden * Ukraine

MUSIC

* Carols

* list

* Hit singles UK * Hit singles US

* Music books

* Carols for Choirs * Oxford Book of Carols * New Oxford Book of Carols * Piae Cantiones

OTHER MEDIA

* Films

* Poetry

* " Old Santeclaus with Much Delight " * " A Visit from St. Nicholas
A Visit from St. Nicholas
"

* Television

* specials * Yule
Yule
Log

In modern society

* Advent
Advent
Conspiracy * Black Friday (partying) * Black Friday (shopping)
Black Friday (shopping)
* Bronner\'s Christmas
Christmas
Wonderland * Christmas
Christmas
club * Christmas
Christmas
creep * Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 * Christmas
Christmas
Lectures * Christmas
Christmas
Mountains * Christmas
Christmas
truce * Controversies * Cyber Monday * Economics * Giving Tuesday * El Gordo * Holiday season * In July * In August * Leon Day * NBA games * NFL games * Puritan New England * American Civil War * Post-War United States * Running of the Santas * SantaCon
SantaCon
* Santa\'s Candy Castle * Small Business Saturday * Super Saturday * Virginia O\'Hanlon * White Christmas
Christmas
* Winter festivals * WWE Tribute to the Troops * Xmas

Food and drink

* Dinner

* Joulupöytä
Joulupöytä
* Julebord
Julebord
* Kūčios
Kūčios
* Réveillon * Twelve-dish supper * Smörgåsbord
Smörgåsbord
* Wigilia

* Sweets

* bûche de Noël * Cake * Candy cane * Cookies * Fruitcake * Gingerbread * Kourabiedes * Melomakarono * Mince pie
Mince pie
* Pavlova * Pecan pie
Pecan pie
* Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie
* Pudding * Rosca de reyes
Rosca de reyes
* Szaloncukor * Turrón
Turrón

* Soup

* Menudo

* Sauce

* Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce

* Beverages

* Apple cider * Champurrado * Eggnog
Eggnog

* Mulled wine

* Smoking Bishop

* Ponche crema

* Dumpling

* Hallaca * Tamale
Tamale

* Meat

* Ham * Roast goose * Romeritos * Turkey * Stuffing

* Category * Commons * Portal

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Wigilia
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